Iola High fought valiantly on defense, struggled on offense and weathered a blustery fall night in a 38-0 loss to Burlington Friday.
The loss, Iola’s third in a row, means the Mustangs will see their season conclude without a playoff appearance next week.
As the adage goes, the final score was hardly indicative of the defensive effort the Mustangs put forth against a powerful Burlington squad that entered the game averaging nearly 260 rushing yards a contest.
Were it not for a pair of costly turnovers — a lost fumble on Iola’s first play from scrimmage, and then an interception return for a touchdown by Burlington’s Braden Sloyer late in the half — Iola likely would have entered the break down by a single score. Instead, the Mustangs faced a 22-point deficit as the team entered the locker room.
“That’s a pretty good Burlington team,” Mustang head coach David Daugharthy said. “They’ve rolled pretty much every team they’ve played. Honestly, the defense we played against them in the first half was the best defense anybody has played against them.”
A shorthanded Mustang offense was without the services of leading rusher Trent Jones and Aden Jones, one of the team’s key offensive linemen, due to injury.
Thusly, Burlington knew the key to stopping Iola’s offense was to put multiple defenders into pass coverage to blanket the Mustang receivers.
The Mustangs’ best shot at scoring came in the second quarter with Iola trailing, 16-0. A pair of personal foul penalties against Burlington, plus a 22-yard scamper by Iola quarterback Bradyn Cole, put the ball at the Wildcat 16. But a 1-yard Cole run, followed by three straight incompletions, turned the ball over to Burlington.
Iola immediately forced a three-and-out, but could do nothing with the ball on its subsequent possession. Cole’s four-and-seven pass from midfield fell incomplete, giving the ball back to Burlington.
Iola again forced a three-and-out, but Sloyer stepped in front of a Cole pass with under a minute left in the second quarter, then zig-zagged his way down the field for a back-breaking touchdown.
The Wildcat offense began to click in the second half. Burlington marched 50 yards on 10 plays, ending with a 1-yard touchdown pass form Sloyer to Gavin Price. Another eight-play drive spanning the third and fourth quarters was capped by Sloyer’s 6-yard touchdown for the final margin.
Ioal had one final shot at denting the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Cole found Drake Sellman on a 12-yard pass, then looked to have another long pass to Kole Rogers, but that play was called back due to penalty. Iola turned the ball over on downs four plays later.
“We couldn’t get anything going,” Daugharthy said. “They were daring us to run, and we couldn’t run it.”
Frigid weather didn’t help matters. A cold north wind swirled throughout the contest, affecting passes and kicks the most.
Friday’s contest marked Iola’s homecoming. Logan Brown was voted in by Iola’s students body as Homecoming King, while Sidney Shelby was tapped as the queen.
Iola (2-4) will get one final game, likely against either Cherryvale or Baxter Spring on Thursday evening. Parings and locations are expected to be announced this weekend.
Burlington — 16-6-8-8—38
Burlington — Sloyer 2 yd run (Price run)
Burlington — Sloyer 16 yd run (Sloyer run)
Burlington — Sloyer 30 yd interception return (run failed)
Burlington — Price 1 yd pass from Sloyer (Rand run)
Burlington — Sloyer 6 yd run (Hoback pass from Rand